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Junior dos Santos respects 'tough' Ben Rothwell for fighting him at UFC 'Croatia' when no one else would

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After falling to Alistair Overeem via first-round knockout at UFC on FOX 17 last December (see it), Junior dos Santos was looking to get back into the cage sooner, rather than later.

The problem?

No one seemed keen on accepting a showdown against the heavy-hitting veteran. That is, until the offer sheet was delivered to Ben Rothwell, who didn't think twice about signing on the dotted line -- despite the fact he's on a four-fight win streak and now facing someone coming off a loss.

It's that very simply fact that earned Ben all of "Cigano's" respect, as the Brazilian bomber declared on The MMA Hour:

"I respect him for that because after my loss, I told UFC and Joe Silva that I wanted to fight as soon as possible. I wanted to rid this terrible moment of my career. They were looking for someone to fight me and no one was accepting. Rothwell, who just fought Josh Barnett after like a week accepted to fight me. So I said, 'Man, this guy is a tough guy. He just fought and he accepted to fight me.' I felt good."

That aside, Junior is highly-impressed with Rothwell's run of late, including his submission win over "The Warmaster."

Of course, the Brazilian is more impressed with his own skill set, which is why he is confident he can take Rothwell out and make his way back to the top of the heavyweight mountain.

"It's a very important fight for me. Right now, I feel that this fight I have with Rothwell is tougher than my last fight. I know I had a negative result in my last fight, but if I win this one, it will put me back where I was before. Either in No. 1 or No. 2 and close to a title fight. Of course, I'm not thinking title fights, I just want to be in the best position. This is my life and I am sure I got what it takes to be the champion again. I just need to put everything in the right place, including my mind. We have to be confident. These negative moments have been very tough."

Furthermore, "JDS" says despite two tough fights against Cain Velasquez in which he absorbed plenty of damage, he is adamant the brutal defeats had no effect on his previous performances.

He'll look to prove it once again when he takes on "Big Ben" in the main event of UFC Fight Night 86 on April 10, 2016 in Zagreb, Croatia.

For more on that FOX Sports 1-televised fight card click here.

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